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PRIME MINISTER SUGA:  (Via interpreter) I would like to extend my sincere welcome to Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin for visiting Japan as your first overseas travel.  I would also like to welcome that President Biden has declared that America is back, and is promoting policies that value relations with its allies and partners.

Last week, we held the first ever Quad leaders video conference, and we were able to send a strong message to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.

I have just been reported that during today’s 2+2, the four of you had very constructive discussions towards the further strengthening of deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance.

I will soon visit Washington to meet with President Biden, and I hope to make it a significant opportunity to reaffirm the bond, the kizuna, of the alliance with your President.

Please.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for such a warm welcome.  I remember well when you were a cabinet secretary the wonderful hospitality you showed me when I was deputy secretary of state.  It’s wonderful to see you again.  It’s an honor to be with you, together with my friend and colleague, Secretary of Defense Austin.

He and I are making the first cabinet-level overseas trip of the Biden administration together.  And we come to Japan because the alliance between Japan and the United States has been a cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity for our countries, for the region, and the world for more than 60 years.  And thanks to the work we can do together, it will remain so.  Our work together today has been to reaffirm the alliance and to make sure we keep delivering for our people.

Together, Prime Minister, our countries will tackle the most urgent challenges facing our people, including COVID-19 and climate change, and we’ll stand together in defense of an open and free Indo-Pacific region, as you did so eloquently in the Quad leaders summit (inaudible).

We’ll discuss all of this and more in the time we have together.  Thank you so much for hosting us today.

SECRETARY AUSTIN:  Well, thank you, Prime Minister Suga, for a warm welcome and for the gracious hospitality of the people of Japan.  It is indeed a pleasure to be here in Japan on my first international trip as Secretary of Defense, and especially so alongside my colleague, Secretary of State Blinken.

The U.S.-Japan Alliance is the cornerstone of our strategy in the Indo-Pacific region.  And it is resolute and resilient thanks to the strong spirit of teamwork and cooperation between our two countries.  I look forward to working with your team to advance our shared interests and preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Thank you again, Mr. Prime Minister, for hosting us today.  It’s a real pleasure to be here.

U.S. Department of State

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